HOMESTEAD, Fla. — Kyle Larson played spoiler and proved his mastery of the high side once again at Homestead-Miami Speedway, dominating the opening stage of Sunday’s season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400.
Larson took the lead on lap 13 and paced the final 68 laps of the opening segment for his seventh stage win of the year.
Though Denny Hamlin led the field to green from the pole, he didn’t even hold the lead for two corners, as title favorite Martin Truex Jr. charged from the bottom of the track to lead the race on the initial start.
From there, an early caution slowed the pace on the fifth round after Joey Gase lost a right front tire and slammed the outside wall in turn two, bringing Brad Keselowski to pit road for an early set of fresh tires.
Keselowski restarted 13th when the green flag waved on lap 10, but rocketed into the top five in less than two laps and found his way to third behind Truex on the 13th round when Kyle Larson took the lead away for the first time.
Keselowski moved to second — and the points lead — moments later and proceeded to pursue Larson all the way until green flag pit stops began on lap 38. Truex and Kevin Harvick pitted on the 39th round, Keselowski followed one lap later and Kyle Busch was the final of the title contenders to come down for service on lap 41.
Larson cycled back through to the top spot on lap 43 as Busch complained of a possible loose wheel, but all four championship players remained inside the top-10 for the remainder of the stage distance.
By the time the green-checkered flag waved over the field, Larson held a 9.771 second margin over Keselowski, Busch, Harvick and Truex.
Chase Elliott, Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano and Clint Bowyer completed the top 10 at the first stage break.
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network, as well as a periodic contributor to SPEED SPORT Magazine.
Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
The 23-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.
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